What is H. pylori bacteria?
H. pylori infections are common, and it’s possible to be infected without realising it because the infection doesn’t usually cause symptoms. The bacteria live in the stomach lining, and people of all ages can be infected. But in some people, the bacteria can irritate the stomach lining and make it more vulnerable to damage from the stomach acid. It’s not clear exactly why some people are more vulnerable to the effects of H. pylori bacteria than others.
Testing for H. pylori infection
If your GP thinks your symptoms may be caused by an H. pylori infection, they may recommend the following test:
a urea breath test – you’ll be given a special drink containing a chemical that’s broken down by H. pylori; your breath is then analysed to see whether or not you have an H. pylori infection. If you test positive for H. pylori, you’ll need treatment to clear the infection, which can heal any stomach ulcers and prevent it returning.
Read more about treating stomach ulcers.